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TMCNet:  Digital Overload of Healthcare Information and Looming Deadlines Driving New Challenges for IT Executives

[February 04, 2013]

Digital Overload of Healthcare Information and Looming Deadlines Driving New Challenges for IT Executives

BROOMFIELD, Colo., Feb. 4, 2013 /PRNewswire via COMTEX/ -- Network security issues, vital infrastructure upgrades, Electronic Health Record (EHR) implementation and impending federal deadlines will guide priorities this year, according to an independent research study of 100 healthcare provider CIOs and senior IT executives commissioned by Level 3 Communications, Inc. (NYSE: LVLT).

To view the multimedia assets associated with this release, please click: http://www.multivu.com/mnr/50965-level-3-independent-cio-survey-confidence-lacking-in-network-security (Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20111004/LA77008LOGO) At the same time, healthcare CIOs and IT executives are less inclined to focus on mobile-enabled healthcare (mHealth) and slow to adopt cloud computing based on survey responses.

Research highlights and IT challenges for 2013 include: -- 56 percent were only "somewhat confident" in their ability to prevent a privacy or security breach on their network -- 76 percent of respondents are planning to upgrade their network infrastructure in the next two years -- 24 percent reported they are using cloud-based computing, much lower than other industries -- Only 17 percent believe mHealth will have a significant impact on the healthcare industry -- 80 percent agree that EHR-based systems will improve patient care -- More than 60 percent of respondents suggest EHR and Meaningful Use mandates are a "good idea" to support better quality patient care Confidence in Security Lacking The research study found that many healthcare organizations might not be prepared to deal with the scale of the security challenges headed their way, as more and more critical patient information is digitized. (Reference Exhibits 1 & 2.) While 80 percent reported their organization had not experienced a security breach in the past 12 months, more than half (56 percent) of those respondents were only "somewhat confident" in their ability to prevent a security breach on their network. This indicates a strong lack of confidence for an industry that experiences a significant number of security breaches each year. In fact, a 2012 survey of 80 healthcare organizations from the Ponemon Institute found that 94 percent of the organizations had a least one data breach in the past two years, at an average cost of $2.4 million per data breach.

Security concerns are also a critical component of EHR implementations. Seventy-seven percent of respondents cited security breaches as either a major or moderate EHR implementation issue. The second top-rated concern with EHRs is patient safety, followed third by privacy issues. Security breaches and patients' privacy issues were slightly more likely to be of "major concern" among large organizations, due to the sheer volume of patient information at risk. Lower on the list of EHR implementation concerns was penalty costs - 35 percent said security and compliance-related penalties were of little to no concern. (Reference Exhibit 3.) "Patient privacy and the security of health records are weighing on the minds of healthcare CIOs," said Karl Strohmeyer, Level 3 group vice president. "The 'Future of Healthcare IT' study reinforces that there is no room to take chances when patients' privacy is at risk - ensuring the confidentiality of patient data should be a top priority. As more and more healthcare-related information is digitized and shared remotely, the need for secure networks and services to protect this data will continue to grow." Slow to Adopt Cloud Computing Although many respondents recognized that cloud computing can offer cost-savings and capacity benefits, just 24 percent reported they are using cloud-based computing, which is a relatively low uptake compared to other industries.

Little Traction For mHealth An even smaller percentage - 17 percent - believes mobile-enabled healthcare will have a significant impact on the healthcare industry, suggesting the healthcare IT industry may not yet be fully primed for a widespread move to mHealth technology and applications.

Telehealth Care Still Growing Trend The survey results showed that telehealth is a growing trend, with two-thirds (67 percent) of organizations indicating that they currently have telehealth capabilities. The driving factor behind telehealth is patient care. Respondents believe these capabilities will offer both providers and patients better access to EHRs and, as a result, improve patient care. (Reference Exhibit 4.) Additionally, more than one-third (37 percent) of respondents believe interconnectivity of healthcare facilities will have the greatest impact on the healthcare industry, and another one-quarter (27 percent) believes EHRs themselves will have the greatest impact.

Constant Infrastructure Upgrades In the Works The study also showed that network infrastructure demands will continue to grow as healthcare organizations try to prepare for increased interconnectivity of healthcare facilities, security demands and other healthcare-related technology advancements. More than three-quarters (76 percent) of respondents are planning to upgrade their network infrastructure in the next two years driven by implementation of EHRs, interconnectivity between providers and facilities, and medical imaging demands. (Reference Exhibit 5.) "The expansion of network infrastructure that we anticipate will allow healthcare organizations to store massive amounts of patient information securely," said Strohmeyer. "Providers can access digitized information from any location in real time, ultimately resulting in substantial efficiencies in patient care. Interconnectivity and network security are essential to meeting the growing demands of the digital healthcare world." "EHR Deadline is Feasible" The research also revealed that, despite feeling pressure to implement EHRs to meet new federal regulations under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), most healthcare CIOs and senior executives support the efforts and believe ACA timeframes are feasible. More than 60 percent of respondents suggest EHR and Meaningful Use mandates are a "good idea" - due primarily to the fact that EHRs are expected to support better quality patient care with increased access to medical records and information by providers. In addition, 79 percent believe the 2015 EHR deadline is feasible.

Study Methodology & Demographics Level 3 commissioned Corona Insights to conduct the "Future of Healthcare IT" study in November 2012. The 100-person respondent base was comprised of CIOs and other c-level and senior IT executives who are employed by hospitals, medical centers and physicians' offices. The size of the organizations managed by these CIOs and executives range in revenues from $10 million to $1 billion.

To Learn More To learn more about the research findings and Level 3's solutions for the healthcare industry, please visit http://www.level3.com/en/solutions/industry/healthcare/.

About Level 3 Communications Level 3 Communications, Inc. (NYSE: LVLT) provides local, national and global communications services to enterprise, government and carrier customers. Level 3's comprehensive portfolio of secure, managed solutions includes fiber and infrastructure solutions; IP-based voice and data communications; wide-area Ethernet services; video and content distribution; data center and cloud-based solutions. Level 3 serves customers in more than 450 markets in 45 countries over a global services platform anchored by owned fiber networks on three continents and connected by extensive undersea facilities. For more information, please visit www.level3.com © Level 3 Communications, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Level 3, Level 3 Communications, Level (3) and the Level 3 Logo either registered service marks or service marks of Level 3 Communications, LLC and/or one of its Affiliates in the United States and/or other countries. Any other service names, product names, company names or logos included herein are the trademarks or service marks of their respective owners. Level 3 services are provided by subsidiaries of Level 3 Communications, Inc.

Website Access to Company Information Level 3 maintains a corporate website at www.level3.com, and you can find additional information about the company through the Investors pages on that website at http://lvlt.client.shareholder.com/. Level 3 uses its website as a channel of distribution of important information about the company. Level 3 routinely posts financial and other important information regarding the company and its business, financial condition and operations on the Investor Relations web pages.

Visitors to the Investors Relations web pages can view and print copies of Level 3's SEC filings, including periodic and current reports on Forms 10-K, 10-Q, 8-K, as soon as reasonably practicable after those filings are made with the SEC.

Copies of the charters for each of the Audit, Compensation and Nominating and Governance committees of Level 3's Board of Directors, its Corporate Governance Guidelines, Code of Ethics, press releases and analysts and investor conference presentations are all available through the Investor Relations web pages.

Please note that the information contained on any of Level 3's web sites is not incorporated by reference in, or considered to be a part of, any document unless expressly incorporated by reference in that document.

Forward-Looking Statement Some statements made in this press release are forward-looking in nature and are based on management's current expectations or beliefs. These forward-looking statements are not a guarantee of performance and are subject to a number of uncertainties and other factors, many of which are outside Level 3's control, which could cause actual events to differ materially from those expressed or implied by the statements. Important factors that could prevent Level 3 from achieving its stated goals include, but are not limited to, the company's ability to: successfully integrate the Global Crossing acquisition or otherwise realize the anticipated benefits thereof; manage risks associated with continued uncertainty in the global economy; obtain additional financing, particularly in the event of disruptions in the financial markets; manage continued or accelerated decreases in market pricing for communications services; maintain and increase traffic on its network; develop and maintain effective business support systems; manage system and network failures or disruptions; develop new services that meet customer demands and generate acceptable margins; adapt to rapid technological changes that could adversely affect the company's competitiveness; defend intellectual property and proprietary rights; obtain capacity for its network from other providers and interconnect its network with other networks on favorable terms; attract and retain qualified management and other personnel; successfully integrate future acquisitions; effectively manage political, legal, regulatory, foreign currency and other risks it is exposed to due to its substantial international operations; mitigate its exposure to contingent liabilities; and meet all of the terms and conditions of its debt obligations. Additional information concerning these and other important factors can be found within Level 3's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Statements in this press release should be evaluated in light of these important factors. Level 3 is under no obligation to, and expressly disclaims any such obligation to, update or alter its forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise.

Contact Information Media: Investors: Kate Rankin Mark Stoutenberg +1 973 937-0417 +1 720-888-2518 Kathleen.Rankin@level3.com Mark.Stoutenberg@Level3.com SOURCE Level 3 Communications http://rt.prnewswire.com/rt.gif NewsItemId=MM52536&Transmission_Id=201302040700PR_NEWS_USPR_____MM52536&DateId=20130204

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